To individually plan end-of-life care, open communication about a person's preferences and attitudes toward the end of life can facilitate dignity and quality of life in patients and relatives. To improve communication, structured guiding tools might be used as door openers. However, most tools focus on care preferences and decisions without assessing the person's underlying attitudes in detail. This study aims to get insights into specific requirements and conditions for communication about the end of life in various end-of-life care settings. Four focus groups were conducted with volunteers and professionals from nursing and psychosocial care (16 females, 2 males) working in hospice and palliative care and long-term care settings in Germany. A semistructured interview guideline on experiences and aspects associated with end-of-life conversations was used. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed by a content analytic approach. Having end-of-life discussions primarily depended on a pleasant atmosphere, trusting bonds between conversation partners, and professional attitudes of staff members. Nursing home staff felt obligated to initiate conversations, but some reported insecurities doing so. Starting "early," including relatives, and having continuous discussions seemed beneficial for end-of-life conversations. Implementing conversations into existing care structures and using low-threshold impulses to start conversations were helpful. Individualized approaches should be preferred. Each staff member can be a partner in detailed conversations about end-of-life attitudes, but some felt unprepared doing so. Further skill training concerning end-of-life discussions is needed. Communication might be facilitated by open-format tools using low-threshold impulses when conditions of the care setting are considered.
PURPOSE: Palliative care (PC) involves many health care providers leading to a high complexity of structures that requires efficient coordination as provided by case management (CM). Our study aimed to evaluate the effects of CM newly implemented in a specialised palliative care unit by evaluating team members' tasks and time resources before (T0) and after implementation (T1). It was hypothesised that team members would be able to spend less time on organisational and administrative tasks and more time on patient care.
METHODS: A prospective pre-post study design was used. Time distribution of different tasks at T0 and T1 was compared between three different professional groups: physicians, nursing staff and social work. To document their tasks and time required, a documentation form with several items for each profession was developed. Data was analysed using t tests for independent samples.
RESULTS: After Bonferroni correction, a significant pre-post difference was found for the time spent on "discharge interview and discharge" as rated by the physicians (p < .001) with less time spent on this activity after CM implementation. The nursing staff had significantly more time for "conversations with patients" (p < .001) after CM implementation. Moreover, they spent significantly less time on "patient-related requests/advice by telephone" (p < .001) and "discussions with relatives/participation in family discussions" at post-assessment (p < .001). The social worker had significantly more time for "patient advice and support services" (p = .013) after CM implementation.
CONCLUSIONS: Integrating CM can be time efficient and ensures team members to spend more time on their core tasks in patient care.
Background: The 12-months "surprise" question (12-SQ) for estimating prognosis and the need for integrating palliative care (PC) services has not yet been investigated for neurological patients.
Objective: Test the value of the 12-SQ on a sample of neurorehabilitation patients.
Methods: All patients newly registered in the Department of Neurorehabilitation, Dr. Becker Rhein-Sieg-Clinic (8/2016-03/2017) were asked to participate. The treating neurorehabilitation physicians (NP) and an external consulting PC physician (PCP) independently estimated patients' prognosis using the 12-SQ; while symptom burden was independently assessed using the standardized palliative outcome measurement HOPE-SP-CL, a set of additional neurological issues, and ECOG. Follow-up with consenting patients 12 months later was via telephone. Descriptive and inferential statistics were utilized in data analysis.
Results: Of 634 patients, 279 (44%) patients (male: 57.7%, female: 42.3%; mean age: 63 ± 14) (or, alternatively, their legal representative) consented and were assessed at baseline. Per patient NP and PCP both answered the 12-SQ with "Yes" (164), with "No" (42), or had different opinions (73). The "No" group displayed the highest symptom burden on all three measures for both disciplines. Overall, PCP scored higher (i.e., worse) than NP on all measures used. Follow-up was possible for 236 (drop-out: 15.4%) patients (deceased: 34 (14.4%), alive: 202 (85.6%)). Baseline scores on all measures were higher for deceased patients compared to those still living. Prognostic characteristics were: sensitivity: NP 50%, PCP 67.6%; specificity: NP 86.1%, PCP 70.3%, p < 0.001; positive predictive value: NP 37.8%, PCP 27.7%; negative predictive value: NP 91.1%, PCP 92.8%; area under the curve: NP 0.68, PCP 0.69; success rate: NP 80.9%, PCP 69.9%, p = 0.002. Regression analysis indicated that age, dysphagia and overburdening of family (NP answering the 12-SQ), dysphagia and rehabilitation phase (PCP answering the 12-SQ) were associated with increased likelihood of dying within 12 months. Without the 12-SQ as relevant predictor, age, dysphagia and ECOG were significant predictors (NP and PCP).
Conclusion: Combining the 12-SQ with a measurement assessing PC and neurological issues could potentially improve the 12-SQ's predictive performance of 12-month survival and help to identify when to initiate the PC approach. Clinical experiences influence assessment and prognosis estimation.
BACKGROUND: Patient and public involvement in clinical practice guideline development is recommended to increase guideline trustworthiness and relevance.
OBJECTIVE: To engage multiple sclerosis (MS) patients and caregivers in definition of the key questions to be answered in the EAN Guideline on Palliative Care of People with Severe MS.
METHODS: A mixed methods approach was used: International online survey launched by the national MS societies of eight countries, after pilot testing/debriefing on 20 MS patients and 18 caregivers; focus group meetings (FGMs) of Italian and German MS patients and caregivers.
RESULTS: Of 1199 participants, 951 (79%) completed the whole online survey, and 934 from seven countries were analyzed: 751 (80%) were MS patients (74% women, mean age 46.1) and 183 (20%) caregivers (36% spouses/partners, 72% women, mean age 47.4). Participants agreed/strongly agreed on inclusion of the nine pre-specified topics (from 89% for 'advance care planning' to 98% for 'multidisciplinary rehabilitation'), and <5% replied 'I prefer not to answer' to any topic. There were 569 free comments: 182 (32%) on the pre-specified topics, 227 (40%) on additional topics (16 guideline-pertinent), and 160 (28%) on outcomes. Five FGMs (three of MS patients, two of caregivers, overall 35 participants) corroborated the survey findings. In addition, they allowed the explanation of the guideline production process, the exploration of patient-important outcomes and of taxing issues.
CONCLUSIONS: MS patient and caregiver involvement was resource and time intensive, but rewarding. It was key for the formulation of the 10 guideline questions, and for the identification of patient-important outcomes.
Background: Palliative care in Parkinson's Disease (PD) patients considerably differs from palliative care in oncology patients. Integrated care models are a concept to support patients and improve management of PD symptoms. However, it is not known if the access to PD patients at the end of life can be achieved through integrated care models.
Aim: To analyze an integrated model of care for PD patients with the aim to identify if this integrated model of care has access to PD patients at the end of life.
Material and Methods: The Cologne Parkinson's network was designed as a randomized, controlled prospective clinical trial in order to increase quality of life of PD patients. This innovative model of care integrated a neurologist in private practice, a movement disorder specialist of the University Hospital and a PD nurse. Mortality rates of PD patients during the study period of 6 months were registered and compared with mortality rates of the general population of Germany according to the Federal Statistical Office of Germany. The retrospective post-hoc analysis was conducted after completion of the initial study at the University Hospital and neurologists' practices in the greater area of Cologne, Germany. Eligible patients had a diagnosis of idiopathic PD and were aged 25-85 years.
Results: Parkinson's Disease patients in this trial had an even slightly lower mortality rate as the general population (1.66 v. 2.1%). These results are contradictory and speak for a substantial proportion of late-stage disease patients, who have not been adequately included in this study or have been better treated within this trial. The mean disease duration of patients in this study was around 6 years which resembles the lower range of the mean disease duration at death of PD patients in general.
Conclusions: The results of our post-hoc analysis show, that accessing PD patients in the last phase of their disease is extremely difficult and nearly fails in spite of an integrated care approach. Reasons for poor access and loss of follow-up at the end of life have to be identified and care models for PD patients until the end of life should be developed urgently.
INTRODUCTION: The last year of life constitutes a particularly vulnerable phase for patients, involving nearly all health and social care structures. Yet, little scientific evidence is available that provides insight into the trajectories including the number and types of care setting transitions, transitions into palliative care and the dying phase. Only few studies have focused on difficulties associated with having to move between health and social care settings in the last year of life, although patients face a significant risk of adverse events. The Last Year of Life Study Cologne (LYOL-C) aims to fill this gap.
METHODS AND ANALYSIS: LYOL-C is a mixed-methods study composed of four steps: (1) Claims data collected by the statutory health insurance funds of deceased persons will be analysed with regard to patient care trajectories, health service transitions and costs in the last year of life. (2) Patient trajectories and transitions in healthcare will additionally be reconstructed by analysing the retrospective accounts of bereaved relatives (n=400) using a culturally adapted version of the Views of Informal Carers-Evaluation of Services Short Form questionnaire and the Patient Assessment of Care for Chronic Conditions Short Form questionnaire adapted for relatives. (3) Qualitative interviews with bereaved relatives (n=40-60) will provide in-depth insight into reasons for transitions and effects on patients' quality of life. (4) Focus groups (n=3-5) with Healthcare Professionals will be conducted to discuss challenges associated with transitions in the last year of life.
ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: Ethical approval has been obtained from the Ethics Commission of the Faculty of Medicine of Cologne University (#17-188). Results will be submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals and presented at national and international conferences.
TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: The study is registered in the German Clinical Trials Register (DRKS00011925) and in the Health Services Research Database (VfD_CoRe-Net_17_003806).
OBJECTIVE: We aimed to elucidate the views on life as narrated by patients in palliative care (PC) to find out what patients deem to be essential in their life, whether something has changed concerning their view of life in light of the disease, and whether interviewees would like to give others something to take with them.
METHOD: Data were collected from narrative audio and video interviews with 18 inpatients in a specialized PC unit. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim and analyzed using qualitative content analysis applying MAXQDA software. CDs and DVDs with recorded interviews were provided to patients. Result Eighteen interviews were analyzed: 11 audio and 7 video recordings. The age range was 41-80 years. Patients reported on changes in their views on life. Despite it being a complex and painful process, patients still gave examples of benefits experienced during their illness trajectory. Patients identified resources and coping strategies such as meaningful contacts with close others and mindfulness. Shifts have occurred in terms of taking more time for themselves, enjoying the moment, being more calm, and spending more time with family and friends. What patients wanted to pass on to others was to pay attention to the needs of both the self and the others, shape your life individually, confront yourself early with issues of death and dying, and care for your fellow human beings. Patients and relatives valued the opportunity to keep their interview as a CD/DVD. Significance of results: Results support the idea that many people facing terminal illness continue to focus on living and remain within their biographies and the contexts of their lives, even if their functional status declines. Patients and relatives appreciated that interviews were provided as kind of a legacy. Yet, more robust research is needed to decide whether such interviews yield any therapeutic effect.
The implementation of self-reported outcome measurements into clinical routine was tested to help facilitate early access to palliative care (PC) for glioblastoma (GBM)-patients. Measures detail PC symptoms and concerns and caregiver burden. Between January 2014 and December 2016, a total of 337 GBM-patients were discussed during meetings of the neuro-oncology tumor board to examine further treatment options. Each patient, along with their caregivers, was requested to participate in self-assessment using the palliative outcome scale (POS) and the Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI). Analyses encompassed summary statistics, non-parametric tests, visual graphic analysis, content analysis and assessing the utilization of the specialized PC consulting service (SPCCS). Ninety-five (28%) GBM-patients and 71 (21%) caregivers completed the self-assessment. Of these, 20 patients and 12 caregivers repeated the assessment at least once more during follow-up. POS total scores were similar in the group of patients with initial diagnosis [10 (0-31)] and those with later disease stages like recurrent diagnosis [9 (0-25)], but ZBI total scores differed [14 (0-51) vs. 24 (2-62)]. Single item analysis demonstrated that anxiety and worries about the future predominated. Caregivers were torn between high engagement in caring and feeling overburdened. Still, requests for the SPCCS showed no increase. Actual implementation of measures like POS and ZBI for detecting PC concerns and caregiver burden with GBM-patients in the field remains challenging as indicated by the limited response rate and lack of increased requests for the SPCCS. Modified clinical routines including strengthening awareness of PC, and allowing proxy-assessment might help to overcome barriers.
BACKGROUND: A desire to die (DD) is frequent in palliative care (PC). However, uncertainty remains as to the appropriate therapeutic response. (Proactive) discussion of DD is not usually part of standard care. To support health practitioners' (HPs) reactions to a patient's DD, a training program has been developed, piloted and evaluated. Within this framework, a first draft of a semi-structured clinical interview schedule with prompts (CISP) has been developed, including recommendations for action to support HPs' self-confidence. The aim of this study is the further development of the CISP to support routine exploration of death and dying distress and proactive addressing of a DD.
METHODS: This observatory, prospective health services study comprises a three step study design: 1. Revision of the CISP and consensus finding based on semi-structured interviews with patients and a Delphi process with (inter-)national experts, patient representatives and relatives; 2. Increasing confidence in HPs through a 2 day-training program using the consented CISP; 3. A formative quantitative evaluation of conversations between HPs and patients (300 palliative patients at three time points) and a qualitative evaluation based on interview triads of patients, relatives and HPs. The evaluation of conversations will include patient-oriented outcomes, including perceived relationships with HPs and death and dying distress. We will also consider aspects of social inequality and gender.
DISCUSSION: The intervention can provide a framework for open discussion of DD and a basis for enhancing a trustful HP-patient relationship in which such difficult topics can be addressed. The benefits of this study will include (a) the creation of the first consented semi-structured approach to identify and address DD and to respond therapeutically, (b) the multi-professional enhancement of confidence in dealing with patients' DD and an intervention that can flexibly be integrated into other training and education programs and (c) an evaluation of effects of this intervention on patients, relatives and HPs, with attention to social inequality and gender.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: The study is registered in the German Clinical Trials Register ( DRKS00012988 ; registration date: 27.9.2017) and in the Health Services Research Database ( VfD_DEDIPOM_17_003889 ; registration date: 14.9.2017).
BACKGROUND: At the end of life, anxious attitudes concerning the dying process are common in patients in Palliative Care. Measurement tools can identify vulnerabilities, resources and the need for subsequent treatment to relieve suffering and support well-being.
AIM: To systematically review available tools measuring attitudes towards dying, their operationalization, the method of measurement and the methodological quality including generalizability to different contexts.
DESIGN: Systematic review according to the PRISMA Statement. Methodological quality of tools assessed by standardized review criteria.
DATA SOURCES: MEDLINE, PsycINFO, PsyndexTests and the Health and Psychosocial Instruments were searched from their inception to April 2017.
RESULTS: A total of 94 identified studies reported the development and/or validation of 44 tools. Of these, 37 were questionnaires and 7 alternative measurement methods (e.g. projective measures). In 34 of 37 questionnaires, the emotional evaluation (e.g. anxiety) towards dying is measured. Dying is operationalized in general items (n = 20), in several specific aspects of dying (n = 34) and as dying of others (n = 14). Methodological quality of tools was reported inconsistently. Nine tools reported good internal consistency. Of 37 tools, 4 were validated in a clinical sample (e.g. terminal cancer; Huntington disease), indicating questionable generalizability to clinical contexts for most tools.
CONCLUSION: Many tools exist to measure attitudes towards the dying process using different endpoints. This overview can serve as decision framework on which tool to apply in which contexts. For clinical application, only few tools were available. Further validation of existing tools and potential alternative methods in various populations is needed.
BACKGROUND: In 2015, an evidence- and consensus-based palliative care guideline in adults with incurable cancer was published by the German Guideline Program. Barriers and enablers for the guideline implementation of members of the German Association for Palliative Medicine (DGP) were unknown. Therefore, the aims of this study were (1) to evaluate professionals' knowledge, motivation, and outcome expectancy towards already existing recommendations for palliative care and (2) to evaluate the self-experienced competence in five medical key topics presented in the new guideline.
METHODS: A web-based online survey with all DGP members in 2014 using a specifically designed questionnaire including 62 questions was used. Independent predictors for identified barriers were analysed using multivariable logistic regression analyses.
RESULTS: All 4786 members with known email address were invited, 1181 followed the link, 1138 began to answer, and 1031 completed the questionnaire. Fifty-four percent know already existing recommendations concerning palliative care, 8.4% know and use these recommendations; of the latter group, 44.2% do not notice any improvement of their treatment when applying them. Of key symptoms addressed in the guideline, depression was the symptom with lowest perceived competence (63.7 vs. > 90% for other symptoms). Non-physicians and those working in settings with little contact to seriously ill or dying patients feel less competent in almost all symptoms.
CONCLUSION: Emphasis on the high-quality and evidence- and consensus-based character of the guideline should be underlined in future implementation processes. Implementation strategies should focus on depression and non-physicians and those professionals working in settings with little contact to seriously ill patients.
BACKGROUND: People with advanced dementia present an important target group for palliative care. They suffer a range of symptoms, and their verbal communication abilities are highly restricted. At present, little is known about their needs in the final phase of life.
AIM: To identify the needs of people with advanced dementia in their final phase of life and to explore the aspects relevant to first recognize and then meet these needs.
DESIGN: Multi-perspective qualitative study using grounded theory methodology conducting group discussions, individual interviews, and participant observation.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: The study encompassed nursing homes and involved health professionals, relatives, and residents with advanced dementia.
RESULTS: Data were collected in six nursing homes. Nine group discussions and three individual interviews were conducted comprising 42 health professionals and 14 relatives. Participant observations aided in giving the perspective of 30 residents with advanced dementia. Data analysis generated a total of 25 physical, psychosocial, and spiritual needs divided into 10 categories. Physical needs were classified as follows: "food intake," "physical well-being," and "physical activity and recovery." Categories of psychosocial needs were classified as follows: "adaptation of stimuli," "communication," "personal attention," "participation," "familiarity and safety," as well as "self-determination." Spiritual needs addressed "religion." The results revealed a multitude of key aspects for recognizing and meeting these needs, stressing the importance of personhood.
CONCLUSION: People with advanced dementia in their final phase of life have a multitude of individual and complex needs. This evidence contributes to narrowing the current research gap, offering an orientation framework for research and practice.
PURPOSE: Hyponatremia is a common electrolyte abnormality seen in hospitalized patients. It may cause a variety of symptoms and is associated with longer hospitalizations and higher mortality. However, to date, only little is known about the extent of hyponatremia in patients with incurable diseases and whether it is associated with physical symptoms in this patient group. This study aims to describe the prevalence of hyponatremia, associated symptoms, and symptom intensity in inpatients with hyponatremia receiving specialist palliative care (SPC).
METHODS: This is a retrospective study. Demographic and clinical data as well as symptoms, scored symptom intensity, and laboratory values were collected. All inpatients of a large German University Hospital receiving SPC in 2013 with documented sodium values were included.
RESULTS: In 2013, 789 inpatients received SPC of which 710 had documented sodium values. The prevalence of hyponatremia was 38.7% (275/710). A mild degree showed 220 (31,0%), 44 (6.2%) had a moderate, and 11 (1.6%) a severe form. Hyponatremia patients experienced significantly more symptoms than normonatremic patients (mean = 7.71 vs 6.63; p < 0.001). Breathlessness, depressiveness, nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, constipation, and weakness were significantly more frequent in patients with hyponatremia. Furthermore, hyponatremia severity was associated with higher symptom intensity (mean = 13.29 vs 11.28; p < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: More than one third of all SPC patients showed a hyponatremia, and the hyponatremia grade was associated with symptom burden and symptom intensity. A prospective analysis is needed to further examine this association and the possible influence of hyponatremia correction on symptom burden reduction.
Significant loss of speech often restricts people with advanced dementia in their ability to properly articulate their needs and wishes verbally. Therefore, providing care oriented to the needs of people affected is challenging for caregivers. This case study analyzed the needs of a nursing home resident with severe dementia at the end of life. A variety of different means of communication could be identified for expressing needs and wishes in daily personal care. Caregivers are able to provide care focused on the individual needs given the prerequisite that they have the ability to recognize and interpret residents’ expressive behavior. This requires communication training and palliative care training specified for caregivers in contact with persons with severe dementia.
La taskforce de l'Association européenne pour les soins palliatifs a travaillé avec l'Académie européenne de neurologie pour produire une revue de consensus sur les soins palliatifs dans le cas de troubles neurologiques. Les auteurs en soulignent les principales recommandations.
Cette étude s'interroge sur les effets d'un programme optionnel en soins palliatifs sur les connaissances des étudiants en médecine allemands, sur leurs savoirs faire et leurs attitudes face à des patients en fin de vie.
Cet article rend compte de 2 cas cliniques de scléroses sévères multiples et d'une étude menée auprès de 53 neurologues allemands. Ces deux approches aboutissent aux mêmes observations : il est essentiel de définir le rôle des soins palliatifs dans le cas de scléroses sévères multiples et d'établir des interventions appropriées pour améliorer la qualité de vie des patients atteints de cette maladie et de leur entourage.
La sclérose latérale amyotrophique est une des plus fréquentes maladies neuromusculaires. Cet article traite de sa prise en charge thérapeutique, depuis l'annonce du diagnostic jusqu'à la phase terminale de la maladie. Un tableau récapitule les principaux symptômes physiques et psychiques directs et indirects reliés à cette pathologie. Puis chacun d'eux est repris au niveau de la description de ses mécanismes physiopathologiques et des thérapeutiques médicamenteuses, chirurgicales ou autres soins spécifiques. Certains éléments importants sur les thérapeutiques ou la symptomatologie sont repris en tableaux ; l'un concerne les associations de patients.
Cet article est une synthèse sur les recommandations thérapeutiques concernant la prise en charge de patients en phase terminale d'une pathologie neurologique. Deux cas cliniques introduisent les questions posées par les symptômes à soulager. Un tableau reprend la liste de ces symptômes avec leur prévalence statistique. Puis sont présentés des principes généraux sur la communication avec le patient et son entourage et le mode d'administration des thérapeutiques. La prise en charge de chaque symptôme est ensuite détaillée, avec des tableaux récapitulatifs sur les médicaments spécifiques et les causes de survenue de certains signes.